Creativity & Innovation in Remote New Zealand

By Shlomo  Maital


 My wife Sharona and I are in New Zealand, on the very last leg of a world tour that has taken us around the world, from Brazil, to Boston, France, Singapore, Vietnam, Guangzhou and Shantou China, Hong Kong and now Auckland.   It’s been a great adventure – we combined touring with lecturing, teaching, research and meeting the local Jewish communities on the Sabbath.

    Here, I visited GridAKL, a local incubator located near Auckland Harbor, in the Wynyard Quarter,  and designed to foster technological entrepreneurship.  I met with Eva Perrone, whose title is “activation manager” and she showed me the facility.  The first floor is an open ‘events’ area, where companies outside and inside the incubator can stage workshops, meetings, etc.   The second floor is the incubator, designed as open space, with quiet areas, kitchens, and lots and lots of light. 

    Some of the entrepreneurs in GridAKL are from Aukland University of Technology (AUT), a fine university with entrepreneurial spirit. 

     Despite New Zealand’s remoteness from the world, it is super-connected, with fast broadband.  Many of the startups in GridAKL are IT and software startups.  New Zealand itself makes a living from tourism and dairy and food exports, but is eager to expand its portfolio and build a startup culture. 

   In our travels, from Brazil to Vietnam, to China, Hong Kong, and now New Zealand, we have seen young people eager to start businesses and change the world.  This is an extremely positive trend.  It is also one that should accelerate the heartbeat of an entrepreneur and pump a few grams of adrenaline.   Today if you have a great idea, chances are so does someone else, who could be anywhere in the world, including places you might not think of.  

     Here in New Zealand, we saw an amazing site – the glow-worm cave (see my next blog),  where Nature and Darwinian evolution has created incredible worms that glow in the dark inside the cave ceiling,   and actually create tiny long ‘fishing lines’ that they use to catch their food (mosquitos and bugs).   The ‘glow’ attracts the bugs.    Evolution has produced amazing things, as species compete to survive.  Entrepreneurship can do the same.  The fierce competition  among ideas and resources can generate truly wonderful new creative things that create value for the world and literally, produce something from nothing.   And all it takes is a few young people (or young in spirit),  some open spaces, accessible food (this is the key to a great incubator, Eva Perrone assured me, and I told her about Google’s executive restaurants in their Mountainview, CA campus), strong networking and a great university.